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Thanks for the Nam-ories

This week, while Bill’s been here for spring break, we visited one of our favorite restaurants: Nam. We were glad to see it’s still going strong, despite the fact that it’s now hidden from Monroe Drive by a Starbucks, but it was also little shocking to realize it had been six years since we were here last.

Nam holds a few bittersweet and unusual connections for me. On that last visit, Bill and I had only been together a short time, and we met a good friend whose wife had suffered a terrible accident. We realized it had been six years ago almost to the day that we learned she had spoken her first words after a long coma. On another visit, I dropped in for an early dinner and found the only other diner in the place was perhaps the most ironic person in Atlanta to find in a Vietnamese restaurant: Jane Fonda, whose haters still call her Hanoi Jane. Her daughter, son-in-law and adorable grandbaby joined them soon after, and it was great to see them enjoy each other, not seeming to mind that people knew who they were. Thankfully, everybody allowed them their privacy.

All those memories are swirled in with the fact that I just love everything about this place: The wildly creative Vietnamese/Japanese brothers who own it, and whose stamp is on every modern twist, from the drawings on the wall to the shocking red-and-chrome color scheme. The fantastic, authentic Vietnamese food, perhaps my favorite (if you’ve never tried it, imagine a French version of Chinese food — light, beautifully arranged, full of fresh herbs). The fact that these two hip guys have installed their mom in the kitchen. Yes, she was there that night, still cooking some of the best food in town.

I chose her cabbage soup for Atlanta Kitchens, along with two other, sexier recipes (grilled shrimp on sugar cane, and “Shaking” filet mignon).  But the humble name “Mom’s cabbage soup” doesn’t do this elegant presentation justice. (I’m attaching a terrible iPhoto pic, just to give you some idea.) It’s a clear, clean broth, flecked with fresh herbs and hand-tied bundles, a little like wontons, filled with crabmeat and vegetables. The dumplings are actually cabbage leaves, tied with scallions. It’s a knockout. So is the rice flour tamale, steamed in a banana leaf, sprinkled with pork and fish sauce, with the elemental texture of baby food. (I’ll add Nam to the Food & Reviews section, so check there if you want more info.)

I hear Nam is now serving pho (the traditional rice noodle soup) at lunch — I can’t wait to go back to try that. And to find out what the next memory will be.

2 Responses to “Thanks for the Nam-ories”

  1. Patty says:

    I’ve never eaten Vietnamese food but the cabbage soup sounds wonderful and the rice flour tamale sounds adventurously gluten free!

  2. Krista says:

    Patty, I never thought of that, but I expect you’re right — it probably is gluten-free. You might also want to try the pho, a lovely clear broth soup with rice noodles. Slurpily fab.

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